NEW HAVEN, Ct. — Two black college football standouts from the 1980′s and a legendary HBCU coach are a part of seven inductees as the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame announced their Hall of Fame Divisional Class for 2006 on Tuesday.
The NFF considers players and coaches from NCAA Divisions I-AA, II, III, and the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) for its induction.
Among this year’s inductees are Jackson State defensive back Kevin Dent, Mississippi Valley State wide receiver Jerry Rice, and longtime Maryland State head coach Vernon “Skip” McCain.
The rest of the 2006 class includes: Idaho quarterback John Friesz; Central Arkansas wide receiver Ronnie Mallett; and head coaches Dick Farley (Williams College) and John Gagliardi (Carroll College & Saint John’s University).
This year’s class will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame during Enshrinement Ceremonies at the Hall, August 11-12, in South Bend, Indiana.
A fierce defensive talent, Dent will become the first defensive player and third overall in JSU school history to enter the College Football Hall of Fame, joining legends Walter Payton and Willie Richardson.
A constant interception threat, Dent is the JSU’s only three-time First Team All-America selection (1986-88). A three-time Sheridan Black College National Defensive Player of the Year, he led the nation in interceptions in 1986 and currently ranks among the Top 25 in NCAA Division I-AA history with 21 career picks.
At 6-foot-2, 196 pounds, Dent was the leader of a defense that vaulted the Tigers to three consecutive SWAC championships and a remarkable 27-1 conference record. A three-time First Team All-SWAC selection, Dent was also twice named SWAC Defensive Player of the Year.
A two-time Mississippi Sports Writers All-Mississippi Team selection, Dent currently ranks fourth all-time at Jackson State in single-season interceptions (11 in 1988). A community minded individual, he continues to reside in Jackson, Mississippi.
Widely regarded as one of the greatest wide receivers in football history on any level, Mississippi Valley State’s Jerry Rice will join his teammate Willie Totten as both ends of the famed Delta Devil “Satellite Express” will now be members of the College Football Hall of Fame.
A two-time First Team All-America selection, Rice finished ninth in the 1984 Heisman Trophy voting as he set numerous Division I-AA records including single-season receptions (103) and receiving yards (1,450).
A three-time First Team All-SWAC pick, Rice was named the 1984 SWAC Player of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year for the State of Mississippi. A member of the Super South 11, he shattered school records with 310 career receptions, 4,856 receiving yards and 51 touchdowns.
Drafted in the first round of the 1985 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers, Rice became arguably the greatest player in NFL history. In 20 seasons, he was named to the Pro Bowl 13 times, won three Super Bowls and broke virtually every receiving record.
His NFL totals exceed 1,500 receptions, 22,000 receiving yards and 200 touchdowns.
In the community, Rice volunteers with the March of the Dimes, Packard Children’s Hospital, Nike PLAY program, Team Up for Healthy Kids, United Way and The Jerry Rice “127″ Foundation.
THE PRIDE OF THE HAWKS
For more than a quarter of a century Maryland State College (now known as Maryland Eastern Shore) was regarded as a football powerhouse among historically black colleges.
The architect of 16 of these teams was head coach Vernon “Skip” McCain. Named Coach of the Year by the Pigskin Club of Washington in 1950, McCain led his teams to four CIAA titles and never recorded a single losing season in 16 years at the helm.
With a career record of 102-21-5, McCain is one of only 28 coaches in the history of college football to have a winning percentage greater than .800 among those whom have coached at least nine seasons.
A leader of men, he guided the Hawks to three undefeated seasons and seven seasons of seven wins or more. For all of his accomplishments, he was named to the MSC and Langston University Athletic Halls of Fame.
In the community, McCain served as the MSC’s athletics director, head baseball coach and head basketball coach during his career. An active member of the Metropolitan United Church, he was a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and the Langston University Alumni Association.
“We are very pleased to announce the 2006 College Football Hall of Fame Divisional Class,” said NFF Chairman and former New York Giant running back Ron Johnson.
“Often overlooked by the enormous accomplishments by those on the Division I-A level, it is very important for us to recognize those who have been gridiron legends on all levels of college football.”